Leo Zuckerman is quickly establishing himself as a promising young filmmaker; especially after scooping his third big win in the last year at a Whistler film competition.
The University of British Columbia student (in his final year of school) and veteran mountain biker Richie Schley won top spot — and $5,000 — at the GoPro Dirt Diaries at Olympic Plaza Aug. 13. Zuckerman won the competition in its inaugural year in 2012 and he took top place at the Intersection film contest during the World Ski and Snowboard Festival earlier this year.
"It feels pretty good," Zuckerman said after the win. "It makes me wonder what I'm going to do next."
Crankworx organizers tweaked the Dirt Diaries competition this year. They chose six athletes who selected the filmmaker with whom they wanted to work. The short film had to include a plot line and footage of the Whistler Bike Park, but could also feature images from any other location in the world. The results were screened for a packed crowd under the stars at Olympic Plaza.
Zuckerman decided to split his film into segments with Schley talking about and riding trails, the bike park and the alpine (which arguably offered the most stunning visuals). "There's definitely a mould to bike videos that everything falls into," he says. "We wanted to step back and do something different. The idea was to examine the three fundamental aspects of mountain biking."
The filmmaker-athlete teams had two months to get together to make their submission. Zuckerman came to Whistler about a month early to begin planning. He thought shooting would begin a week later.
"Richie gets here and he goes, 'Oh by the way, I'm going to Apsen,''" he says, with a laugh. "So he goes to Aspen for a week and by the time everything was ready to go it was a week. We pretty much had six, seven days. I think it was enough."
For Schley, who has been featured in countless mountain bike films, Zuckerman's technique and style seemed a little foreign at first. His shots, for example, often feature wide angles of an object (like a bike) then hone in on one aspect of it to create drama. "It was a little different because Leo's not a mountain bike scene guy," Schley said. "It was hard for me to understand at times what he was going after because his shots were kind of boring and not that interesting as a rider, but I could tell he knew what he was doing. I've done this long enough that I could see he was doing different things. He gave me a preview and I thought we stood a pretty good chance from that moment on. He's very talented."
In second place, Geoff Gulevich and Ross Measures took $3,000 for their film featuring shots of riders traversing Kamloops and the North Shore that put a kid on screen to sleep, followed by scenes from the Whistler bike park that send him out the door to ride.
Ryan "R-Dogg" Howard and Scott Secco won third place and $2,000 for their submission.
Meanwhile, Sunshine Coast photographer Nicolas Teichrob won first place at the Deep Summer Photo Challenge Aug. 14. As part of that competition, six action sports photographers were challenged to capture mountain biking in the Sea to Sky corridor, including the Whistler Bike Park, over three days.
Teichrob, who got his photography start during his travels as a geoscientist, took home the $5,000 first place prize. Garrett Grove, based in Washington state, earned second place while Harookz, a Vancouver photographer, came in third.